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Rehabilitation Commission to launch Tigray DDR program ‘in June’

Members of Tigrayan forces. Photo: Social Media

Addis Abeba – The Embassy of Canada in Ethiopia disclosed that the National Rehabilitation Commission (NRC) is “committed to launching the Demobilization and Reintegration program in Tigray in June.”

This was disclosed following a discussion Joshua Tabah, Ambassador of Canada to Ethiopia, held with Temesgen Tilahun, NRC Commissioner on Wednesday on “the program’s next steps.”

“Canada is committed to supporting [the] full implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement,” said the embassy referring to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed in Pretoria in November 2022 between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

In a message he posted on X (formerly Twitter) following the meeting, Ambassador Tabah on his part said he looks “forward to accompanying [the] next steps to support the transition of ex-combatants to civilian life, in support of a more peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia.”

The disclosure of the June timeline for the DDR program in the Tigray region by the embassy coincided with the message from Ethiopia’s National Security Council that despite the achievements so far after the signing of the CoHA, “there is still work to be done… in particular, the TPLF militants must disarm.”

Although in January 2023, AU’s Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM) reported the disarmament of heavy weapons to a scale of 85 to 90 %, it has not been matched by the federal government’s mandate to oversee the concurrent withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from Tigray as was stipulated in the Executive Declaration on the Modalities for the Implementation of the Pretoria agreement.

According to the “Disarmament of Tigray armed combatants,” clause in the Executive Declaration which was signed in Nairobi on 12 November, article 2.1/D stated that “disarmament of heavy weapons will be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.”

The delayed DDR implementation has recently caused tensions between the federal government and Tigrayan authorities.

NRC’s first national consultation on demobilization and reintegration was held in Mekelle on 10 March last year and Tigray Interim Regional Administration said it was waiting for the full implementation of the Pretoria Agreement to kick start the DDR program for about 270,000 of its ex-combatants, making the region a scene of the biggest DDR program in Ethiopia.

Although the NRC was established by the Ethiopian government in November 2022 for a period of two years to assist with demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants across the country, the lack of funding to cover the initial estimated cost of more than 29.7 billion Br and lack of political settlement to active combats in various parts of the country remain the commission’s biggest challenges.

Last March, the European Union pledged 16 million Euro for Commission’s works that seek to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate an estimated 370,000 ex-combatants in eight regions in Ethiopia.

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